The home buying market has slowed down, but homebuyers are still actively looking at new listings. However, the COVID pandemic has shifted priorities for many shoppers. According to Etco Homes, which recently opened Terraces at Ambassador Gardens in Pasadena, buyers are focused on finding a home with more square footage, flexible spaces and security features.
“We have been preparing for quite some time for marketplace demands to shift. Certainly in light of COVID people’s focus has shifted to wanting more space,” Bree Long, SVP of sales and marketing at Etco Homes, tells GlobeSt.com. “We had been looking at a lot of our buyers as downsizers, but I am starting to see a resurgence of interest in larger square footage homes where people can feel like they can hunker down and really live spaciously within their own confines.”
In addition to increased square footage, buyers are also looking for flexible rooms and spaces within the floor plan—spaces that are adaptable for home offices, children’s play areas and other changing needs for families. “Buyers are looking for flexible spaces that lend themselves to personal use,” says Long. “People have a variety of needs for space and privacy or use of rooms for multiple purposes. We have absolutely contemplated that for our floor plan layouts. That is going to be even more of a factor as we move forward.”
With a need for more square footage has also come less interest in shared communal spaces and amenities. “We are also seeing a shift in movement away from some of the communal aspects that we have focused on in our development communities. We will continue to focus on those amenities, but in a different format moving forward,” says Long.
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Of course, communal amenities aren’t going away for good, but Etco Homes is looking at ways to make adjustments to both make these amenities more attractive and safe for residents. “We are always going to want to commune with our neighbors and share spaces with people, but the world has been changed forever,” says Long. “There is going to be a much more systematic approach to maintaining cleanliness and sanitation of those areas, and in creating a planned-private engagement experience for homeowners in those spaces.”
In addition to shifts in the physical spaces, Long has also seen an increase in requests for security. “People are now very interested in the security and the privacy that their homes afford,” she says. “Whether that is a security presence that is funded via the HOA or high surveillance equipment or full security and additional layers of vetting for guests. We have definitely seen that.”
In many ways, these changes were already developing among homebuyers and have only accelerated as a result of the pandemic. Internally, Etco has been working toward these changes for years. “We have tried to keep ahead of the change that is before us right now. All of these things have been in planning for four or five years. We are meeting the market where the need is,” she says.
As a result, the company is well positioned to appeal to homebuyers today and post-pandemic. “We are definitely seeing pent-up demand from April and May. The latter half of May performed very well, and we are seeing tons of activity on our digital channels and that bodes well for the next 30 to 60 days in terms of actual real estate transactions,” she adds. “We are very bullish and hopeful that the activity that we are seeing now will result in actual transactions in the next couple of months.”